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  • Gina

Sand Dough

In this BLOG post I will teach you how to make sand dough, the benefits of sensory play and storage tips!

Head to our Instagram page to see more ways to learn & play at home or in the classroom! We love to see you play & share the joy of hands-on crafts & activities at home. Be sure to tag @aplayfilledlife on Instagram or Facebook if you try any of our ideas!!

XO Gina

Homemade play dough is the BEST. It is soft and squishy and lasts for so long! When I was 18 years old, I started working in a HeadStart Pre-school. It was there that I fell in love with the classroom. It was there that I learned how important it was to show up for your students and it was there that I first learned how to make homemade playdough.

I have been using this recipe for over TWENTY years (yikes!). It has never, ever failed me. My kids make it with me and it is a resilient recipe. If a little extra of this and a little less of that make it in the pan, it still turns out great.

Check out our traditional play dough recipe HERE.

We love summer so much that we wanted to add a little twist to our classic recipe: Insert Sand Dough. It is still soft and squishy but it has an extra layer of sensory-goodness with the texture from the sand. You can buy craft sand, but we just grab it from the backyard...sticks and leaves and all!

It lends itself perfectly toward seashells, rocks, diggers or farm animals!

Want to extend your learning?

Add in your favorite plastic letters or numbers! Work on letter identification, letters sounds or building words. Work on number identification, counting, or word problems.

The possibilities for learning and play are endless!

Sensory Play supports:

  • Language development & vocabulary

  • Cognitive growth

  • Fine motor skills (small muscle movements)

  • Gross motor skills (big movements)

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Communication

  • Exploration of textures

  • One's ability to make connections

  • The concept of cause & effect


  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 cup sand

  • Mixing bowl

  • Measuring cups

  • Mixing spoon

  • Sensory tray or bowl

Step 1: Pour all ingredients (except water) into a mixing bowl and stir.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil- use caution if having a child help you. I pop it in the microwave for a few minutes until it is boiling and then carefully pour it in.

Step 3: Mix the boiling water in well. It will begin to form a ball and all blend together,

Step 4: After it cools, remove it from the bowl and knead well.

Step 5: Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months!

If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour. If it feels too dry, add a bit more water. It should be smooth and not sticky!


This is NOT a taste-safe recipe. If you have children who are still exploring with their mouths, I suggest saving this recipe for later.

Sensory Play Recipes are:

  • An excellent way to connect with your kids (and your own inner child!) as you spend time together making the recipes even before play begins!

  • Eco-friendly: you control the ingredients that go into it and use much less packaging. 

  • Budget-friendly: most recipes last up to 6 months if stored properly.


Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. It is normal to see salt crystalize on the dough. Knead it back in before use. If you see mold, throw it away immediately.

Why cream of tartar?

Cream of tartar acts as a stabilizer, prolonging the shelf life of the dough. It also softens your dough! If you don't have any, use lemon juice or white vinegar as a substitute!

Small objects can be choking hazards. You get to decide what is safe and manageable in your home.


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